Artist Jill O’Bryan and team install her work one billion breaths in a lifetime on the corner of 21st & Q Streets, NW, right outside the museum (listen close for the answer to the question in this blog post’s title!).
When I stepped into the room, I was overcome with the sweet fragrance. I actually smelled it before I saw it, walking up the stairs. The first thing I thought of was tea. Tea with honey, of course. Then my mind wandered to exotic travels, steaming hot summers, and spices. I was reminded of nature, damp winters, feather comforters, biscuits (the English kind), and Christmas.
In short, I felt good when I stood in the Laib Wax Room. I even felt warmer being in that bright, small space.
I read the wall label only after leaving the room and discovered that the artist, Wolfgang Laib, was profoundly influenced by his experiences in India and Southeast Asia. My initial thoughts tell me that my experience of the room was also influenced by travels abroad and memories that remain special.
Have you been to see the Laib Wax Room yet? What did it make you think of?
Jane Clifford, Marketing Intern
During a recent trip to Over, Under, Next: Experiments in Mixed Media, 1913-Present at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, I walked into Ann Hamilton’s palimpsest and couldn’t help but think of the Laib Wax Room at The Phillips Collection. All four walls and even the ceiling of the installation at the Phillips are coated with roughly 440 pounds of beeswax; conversely, only the floor of Hamilton’s installation at the Hirshhorn is covered with beeswax tablets.
The installations are comparable in their intimate scale, but that’s about where the similarities between the two end. While Hamilton’s work provides endless content for contemplation (including thousands of hand-written notes and live snails), Wolfgang Laib’s stark room, bare save for a single light bulb, leaves visitors alone with their thoughts and senses.
Amy Wike, Publicity and Marketing Coordinator